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tion, tranquilly measures its whole extent. But this is itself a consolation. For after all, the Lord who changes not, is there to comfort the heart. This is the fourth chapter. He calls the whole to mind, and contrasts that which Jerusalem was when under the blessing of the Lord with that which His anger has produced. It is no longer only the overwhelming circumstances of the present scene, but what it was before God. The Nazarites-that which Jerusalem, as the city of the Great King, had been, even in the eyes of her enemies——the Anointed of the Lord, under whose shadow the people might have lived (as we have already seen), although the Gentiles ruled, the Anointed of the Lord had been taken in their pits, like the prey of the hunter. But the afflicted spirit of God's servant, who bears the burden of His people, can now estimate not only the affliction that overwhelms them, but the position of the enemies of Jerusalem, and that of the beloved city. The cup of God's wrath shall pass through unto Edom, who was rejoicing in the ruin of the city of the Lord; and as to Zion, she has doubtless drunk this cup to the dregs; but if she has done so, it was in order that she might drink of it no more. The punishment of her iniquity is accomplished, she shall no more be carried into captivity. All was finished for her-she had drunk the cup which she confessed she had deserved. See chap. iv. 11; i. 18—20. But the sin of haughty Edom should be laid bare. God would visit her iniquity.
The prophet can now present the whole affliction of the people to God, as an object of compassion and mercy. This is an onward step in the path of these deep exercises of heart. He is at peace with God, he is in His presence, it is no longer a heart struggling with inward misery. All is confessed before the Lord who is faithful to His people, so that he can call on God to consider the affliction in order that He may remember His suffering people according to the greatness of His compassions. For the Lord changes not, chap. v. 19— 21. The sense of the affliction remains in full, but God is brought in, and everything having been recalled and judged before Him, all that had happened being
cleared up to the heart, Jeremiah can rest in the proper and eternal relations between God and His beloved people ; and shutting himself into his direct relations with His God, he avails himself of His goodness, as being in those relations, to find in the affliction of the beloved people an opportunity for calling His attention to them. This is the true position of faith, that which it attains as the result of its exercises before God at the sight of the affliction of His people; an affliction so much the deeper from its being caused by sin.
This Book of Lamentations is remarkable because we see in it the expression of the thoughts of the Spirit of God; i.e., those produced in persons under His influence, the vessels of His testimony when God was forced to set aside that which He had established in the world as
There is nothing similar in the whole circle of the revelations and of the affections of God. He says himself, How could He treat them as Admah and Zeboim; Christ went through it in its fullest extent. But He went through it in His own perfection, with God. He acted thus with regard to Jerusalem, and wept over it. But here man is found to have lost the hope of God's interposing on His people's behalf. God would not abandon a man who was one of this people, who loved them, who understood that God loved them, that they were the object of His affection.
He was one of them; how could he bear the idea that God had cast them off? No doubt God would re-establish them. But in the place where God had set them, all hope was lost for ever. In the Lord's own presence it is never lost. It is in view of this that all these exercises of heart are gone through, until the heart can fully enter into the mind and affections of God Himself. Indeed this is always true.
The Spirit gives us here a picture of all these exercises. How gracious! To see the Spirit of God enter into all these details, not only of the ways of God, but of that also which passes through a heart in which the judgment of God is felt by grace, until all is set right in the presence of God Himself. Inspiration gives us not only the perfect thoughts of God, and Christ the perfection of man before God; but also all the exercises produced in our poor hearts, when the perfect Spirit acts in them: so far as these thoughts, all mingled as they are, refer in the main to God, or are produced by Him. So truly cares He for us! He hearkens to our sighs, although much of imperfection and of that which belongs to our own_heart is mixed with them. It is this that we see in the Book of Lamentations, in the Psalms and elsewhere, and abundantly, though in another manner in the New Testament.
The definition of a Christian is-We have known and believed the love which God has to us.
Satan will tell a great deal of truth (not the truth--that is sufficient for me), provided he can deceive by it.
The nearer a man is to God externally, if his soul has not living fellowship with Him the worse he is. Judas is worse than the Pharisees--the Pharisees than the Samaritans. Hence the profession of Christianity, where there is not its living power, is the very place where the most terrible evil is to be looked for.
The flesh never can trust God for eternal life—it may take up any form of godliness.
The history of Judas is first that he was a prudent man, loved money-carried the bag. Then Satan suggests to him a way of gratifying his lusts—now hypocrisy comes in-he goes on with his religion after he has concluded to betray Christ, and with the sop Satan enters into him; now he is hardened even against the relentings of nature.
THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH.
The ministration of the prophets, in the varied exigences of Israel, unfolds the grace and forbearance of the living God. The periods at which God raised them up, and the consequent character of their service, make the history of each very interesting; but of all the times during which the prophets prophesied, none are more painfully so than those of Jeremiah. It is not in the amount of good done that Jeremiah stands before us as pre-eminent; on the contrary, results of labour are nowhere found so small, perhaps, as from the labours of that prophet. The ministry of Moses was one that told wonderfully on the condition of God's people. He found them under the galling yoke of Pharaoh—he left them within sight of the promised land. Joshua left them in possession. The history of the varied deliverers before the days of Samuel, gives us an account of victories obtained. Each one left some footmarks in the track, to say that he had passed that way. So, afterwards, with the prophets. Elijah's and Elisha's days were marked times of God's goodness to an unfaithful people; but if we ask what were the results of Jeremiah's prophecies, we see nothing but desolation and ruin, and, by and bye, lose him himself in the great confusion. At the same time, we see incessant service, unwearied faithfulness, so long as there remained a part of the wreck to be faithful to.
Others who had gone before, had foretold what the disobedient and rebellious ways of Israel would lead them to, but it was the lot of Jeremiah to be on the ship when it went to pieces. He warned and warned again of the rocks that were ahead; but Israel heeded not.
Up to the last moment, he was used of God to press home on their consciences their sad condition—but without avail; and even after the captivity, he remained to guide the wayward remnant of those left in the land, but only to
experience the same obstinacy and determination to be ruined on their part.
The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign. Now, this was a period of blessing—of revival. It was in the eighteenth year that the Passover was kept, of which it was said: “ And there was no Passover like to that kept in Israel, from the days of Samuel the prophet.” Jeremiah would have his share in that joy. I have often thought how much depends on the start of a Christian; how easily the heart sympathizes with what is around, whether baneful or healthful. To have the lot in early life cast among the fresh provisions of God's house, and mid the energies of his own Spirit, will give advantages to such a soul which are not the common lot of the church of God. Such were Jeremiah's first days, the days of Josiah-he was cradled in blessing-—such, too, as had not been tasted in Israel since the days of Samuel. He lamented the death of Josiah. These joys so fresh were of short duration. But there is an intimate connexion between the joys of communion and faithful warfare. There will be little of the one without the other. Jeremiah had drunk of the sweet draughts of blessing which had been so richly provided, and he was therefore able to feel the bitterness of that cup which Israel had to drink. The last chapter of 2nd Chronicles, shews how prominent as a prophet he was. His words were despised, and the result, the casting off for a season of God's people. One of the services of Jeremiah during this period, was to break the fall (if I may so express my thoughts) of Israel. Careful reading will show how tenderly the prophet applied himself to the then existing wants of the people; and it is wonderful to see the compassion of God, as exhibited by him. Jonah regretted that God's judgment did not fall on Nineveh—but the solicitudes of Jeremiah were those of the tender parent, who would fain prevent the calamity befalling on a disobedient child, but failing there, carries still the parent's heart, the parent's tears, to soften the rebellious woes of that child. How often do we, in our intercourse with our brethren, act otherwise. If I see wilfulness and dis